In 2017, I quit my full-time consulting job at a Fortune 500 company, where I had an annual salary of about $40,000. At 23 and right out of college, I had no backup plan — but I knew I was unhappy working a 9-to-5 in the corporate world and needed a change.
Luckily, I had saved up enough money to buy me some time to figure out how I could turn my passion for health, fitness and writing into a lucrative career. I went back to school for a master's degree in nutrition and got certified as a personal trainer.
A year later, I noticed that world of "Instafamous" fitness influencers was booming. I found it exciting, so I created an Instagram account and posted fitness-related photos, along with my diet and exercise tips in the captions.
Six months later, my follower count grew to 10,000.
One day, a popular boxing gym reached out to me. They came across my Instagram captions and asked if I could write a few 500-word blog posts for their website about how boxers can improve their performance. The pay was $25 per post.
I ended up enjoying the process, so I decided to advertise my services as a health and fitness writer on freelancing platforms like Fiverr. After all, I was living at home and could use the money.
Within just a few weeks, fitness influencers, gyms, athletes and health brands started reaching out to hire me. I expanded my services to writing Instagram captions, copyediting and selling fitness plans. By the end of 2019, I went from earning less than $100 per month to more than $10,000 per month.
Quitting my job to be a full-time freelance writer was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It allowed me to redefine what success meant to me and live an authentic life doing what I love most.
Here's my best advice on how to grow your wealth as a freelancer:
1. Make yourself stand out
Unlike many freelancers, I had more than just a portfolio of my sample work.
What set me apart from my competitors was having a consistent presence on Instagram and a growing amount of followers. I showed the effectiveness of my work by sharing metrics of reach and engagement on my social media platforms.
And even though I was taking on more and more clients each month, I put time, thought and care into each project. I made sure my writing matched the voice, style and tone of each client.
2. Introduce yourself in a video
According to Fiverr, freelancers who include explainer videos in their profiles get 220% more gigs than those who don't.
In an explainer video, you can talk about your products and services or topics and issues related to your industry. It also gives you a chance to break down confusing subjects that might be hard to understand.
You don't need to hire a video editor, but it's important to make sure that:
- Your video is short, informative and straightforward
- The sound quality is clear
- The lighting is crisp (daylight is preferred)
- The background is relevant and/or not distracting
- You talk about your services, background and qualifications
Lastly, don't be afraid to show some personality and humor! This is a great way to help potential clients connect and feel comfortable working with you.
3. Price low — at first
If you're new and charging a high price but have no customer reviews, don't expect to get a lot of business.
When I started on Fiverr, I charged $10 for 250-word captions, $25 for 500-word blog posts, and $55 for 1,000 words. These prices were much lower than what other people with the same amount of experience were asking for.
But my goal at the time wasn't to make a ton of money quickly. Instead, I wanted to attract new clients through better prices. More clients soon led to more customer reviews, which is crucial for maintaining a solid reputation.
Once I got a good amount of 5-star reviews and returning clients, I increased my rates by nearly 50%, depending on client demand and the scope of work.
4. Keep building your credentials
There are tons of successful freelancers who have plenty of experience in their fields. But the stronger your credentials, the more business you'll get.
I'm a registered nutritionist and personal trainer with two master's degrees. I've worked at a Fortune 500 company and have a large presence on social media. When you have a lot of credentials, it tells people that you're an expert at what you do.
If you've got the skills but don't have a college degree or relevant work experience, you can earn certificates for free on platforms such as Coursera, Khan Academy and edX — some of which offer classes linked with prestigious universities, including Harvard, Yale, MIT and UC Berkeley.
5. Always be professional and respectful
Your reputation isn't just dependent on how many good reviews you have or your success rate metrics. The way you interact with clients matters, too.
I've encountered CEOs of publicly listed companies, professional athletes, celebrities and global heads of marketing. These people don't tolerate rudeness or unreliability.
Here are my rules for being professional and attracting returning customers:
- No spelling errors or bad grammar in emails
- Replying to messages in a timely manner
- Underpromising and overdelivering (e.g., quote a 3-day turnaround and deliver in 2 days)
- If things get messy or confusing, suggest a phone call
- Never close a project until the client is 100% happy
But above all, respect yourself. If someone is disrespectful or offensive from the jump, it's probably a sign you shouldn't work with them.
Emilina Lomas is a freelance health and fitness writer. Formerly, she was a consultant at a Fortune 500 company. Emilina has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness trainer.
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